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For the last three months, the Hilton HHonors program has offered a very generous status match program. All that you needed to do to get HHonors status through March 2018 was to prove to Hilton that you had current status with another hotel. That’s it.
This program has surely created plenty of new Hilton HHonors elites — although not necessarily very loyal or profitable ones for Hilton. After all, the chain didn’t require new elite members to even step foot in a Hilton hotel. So, it’s not surprising that it has now dropped this match program and replaced it with a match and challenge program.
In order to get Hilton HHonors status, you’ll now need to have status with another hotel and complete a required number of stays with Hilton over the next 90 days. For those hoping to match to Hilton Gold status, you’ll need to complete four stays in a 90-day challenge period. For Diamond status seekers, the requirement is eight stays in the 90-day period.
The good news is that you’ll be granted provisional status with Hilton during the challenge period. So, you’ll get a taste of Hilton Gold/Diamond during the challenge to judge for yourself if the status is worth it. If you meet the challenge, you’ll get to keep this status through March 31, 2018.
As Gold status typically requires 20 stays in one year, requiring just four stays in 90 days isn’t bad. At that rate of four stays per 90 days, you’d only be getting 16 stays in a year.
However, the requirement to stay eight times in 90 days for Diamond status is probably going to be challenging for many travelers — although you could always build in a mattress run or two. It seems that Hilton’s really trying to raise the bar for earning Diamond status in order to only get the most frequent travelers as new Diamond elites.
If you’re earning Hilton status the traditional way, you could qualify for status through stays, nights or points. Unfortunately, Hilton’s new status match/challenge program only allows qualification through number of stays. To be fair to those who have longer or more expensive hotel stays, we’d rather see Hilton also allow challenge qualification through nights stayed or points earned.
If you don’t currently have status with any other hotel, there are a couple of ways to earn Hilton status quickly. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card — which currently has an increased 75,000 point sign-up bonus — will grant you Hilton Silver status as a benefit of being a cardholder. While Silver status isn’t very valuable, Hilton will grant you HHonors Gold status if you complete just four stays in the first 90 days your account is open, or if you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year.
If you’re looking to jump right to HHonors Gold without those pesky required stays, you could sign up for the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which gets you automatic HHonors Gold status.
If you’re looking for a way of fast-tracking from no status to Hilton HHonors Diamond, you do have an option. First, apply for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card to get IHG Platinum Elite status. Once you’re granted this IHG status, match over to Hilton HHonors through the revised program to get provisional Diamond status for 90 days. If you’re able to complete the eight required stays in those 90 days, your Diamond status will be extended through March 31, 2018!
While we’re sad to see Hilton drop its straight-match program, it’s completely understandable. The program probably was flooded with applicants looking to take advantage of the match, but many of these new status holders probably haven’t stayed with Hilton many times since matching. By requiring a status challenge, Hilton is requiring elite-seekers to try out Hilton during the challenge period, surely with the goal of creating loyal elites.
Featured image courtesy of the Conrad Koh Samui.